Contrary to Destiny’s Child’s song, one very important lesson we learned from our trainer (and research) is how quickly we overuse our dog’s name. We use it for so many reasons that he’s learned to only respond when he wants to.
“Knox, come here.”
“Stop it, Knox.”
“Good boy, Knox!”
For the most part, we haven’t reached the point where we’ve “worn it out.” He will usually check in with me if I say his name on a walk, or if we’re walking through a crowd of people.
As an energetic (and sometimes, overly enthusiastic) dog, this was a big step forward. He is still having problems with other reactive dogs and would lose his focus with me if we went by one. Saying his name could not break his concentration from that super noisy barky dog over there that’s so much more interesting!
We use our voice with our dog all the time. And every time we talk to our dog, it’s to demand for something. No wonder they tune us out so quickly!
A method we’ve been utilizing is non-word distractions and body language: making weird, interesting noises! Suddenly changing direction. Actions speak louder than words.
For example, we have been practicing wait:
- Hold kibble just out of reach. Wait for disengagement.
- If he tries to grab at it, move it away.
- Don’t repeat “wait”!
- Once he disengages, click or mark, and treat!
Since Knox has since mastered this, we’ve been chaining Sit, Wait, Ok together. Knox uses Sit to say please, and knows he has to sit until he’s released with Ok. Here are some activities you can practice it with:
- Before going through any door or gate
- Before getting the water or food dish
- Before getting a toy or treat
- Before putting on his leash
As he advanced, he’s learned to sit and wait as I threw kibble all over the apartment for him to find. Nose work AND training at the same time. Phew, his little brain is exhausted after 15 minutes.
What a great rainy day play day! Do you practice impulse control with your dog? What activities do you do?